12/4/1925 – 26/12/2015
It is Daddy’s birthday today. He would have been 92 years old.
I can only thank the NHS for keeping him with us for the last 10 years. I remember talking to the Consultant Geriatrician who warned me that Daddy might not survive his admission years ago and the many NHS staff who looked after him thereafter. I have often thought, could we have afforded private healthcare? Probably for a while but I struggle to sum up the cost of his multiple admissions, each in a weaker state but discharged able to manage life again and spend time with the family.
The NHS allowed us to enjoy Christmas Day together and he passed away on Boxing Day. He was a wise man and respected education as well as the NHS. These are his words from August 2015 when doctors and their families began to realise that we were not valued as NHS professionals.
‘I am 90 years old. I have seen the world change. For the better, perhaps. We do not seem to have learned valuable lessons and I see cyclical change. This is true of wars where we still see refugee crises as people try to ensure that their children have chance at a better life by living.
At the age of 5, I witnessed my fellow travellers being killed as they were not of ‘the right faith’. My aya or nanny, saved me because she had taught me religious words from her faith, which when recited allowed me to live. It was so devastating to see the massacre in Kenya recently where the same ideology applied.
I also have seen the cyclical and damaging changes within the NHS. I have seen properties sold off and hospitals that I have used previously being closed. I have seen policies and targets introduced which are ‘innovative’ but seem to be gross errors that just make it worse. There is no culpability and the NHS carries on with an increasing deficit.
Many of my colleagues from India were successfully working within the NHS and contributing to the growth of the NHS. They were and are, service providers as well as educators of others. A draconian measure stopping this recruitment sent a clear message that they were not valued and others should not follow this path.
The consequence? Gaps in rotas and difficulties with the provision of services. The same is happening again with the demoralising and devaluing of the current work force which is pushing them to seek opportunities overseas. What is pushing them overseas from a stable cultural and environmental background?
Doctors are being driven to deliver more and more targets that are unachievable within the timeframes set and seem to have a political purpose rather than a patient focus. There seems to be more interference with clinical decision-making and so many hoops so that the doctors cannot deliver what they wish to, which is great care.
There appear to be many ‘new’ strategies for education which to be frank, I don’t understand but do know that the most valuable educational asset is the desire of one doctor to teach and develop another. I still see examples of this on my various interactions with the NHS but not as many as in previous years.
There are more and more managers within the NHS. I need great care delivered by great clinicians and need to see the value and impact of this increasing spend within the NHS. It seems as if we have developed a system which needs to be managed and so managers have to be recruited who then have to be managed.
Many doctors (and I know from my own), go into medicine to ‘help other people’. I have seen the self-sacrifice, the cost to family life, which doctors are willing to endure to ensure that their practice is delivering the best. To report widely that this is not valued is a real kick in the teeth that really strikes at their heart. And this is not just doctors. All the nurses, podiatrists, diabetic nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, porters and the lovely people who bring our food, give that extra that keeps the NHS alive.
My plea is that all the pressure groups. who have our interests at heart, work together to improve and sustain the NHS. Without it, my grandchildren will not benefit from the sacrifices we have made as war veterans, taxpayers and as professionals as my fear is the NHS will not exist.
Declared Interests I was a Labour Councillor in North Wales and the father of a Consultant Surgeon embedded in the NHS. ‘
I am saddened by the loss of a great father who along with my mother guided their three children and left great memories. We all miss him everyday but he left a legacy. Daddy was an altruist and gave much to Penmaenmawr in North Wales.
I hope that his concerns do not become reality and we lose a fantastic NHS. There are many who will fight just like my father to ensure a secure future for their children both in education and health.
As Aneurin Bevan said ‘The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.’
Well, let’s keep fighting.